By Stan Schwartz
Managing Editor | Publishers’ Auxiliary

SPRINGFIELD, IL—Ninety percent of the more than 1,000 people responding to the National Newspaper Association’s 2018 readership survey said that their community newspaper informs them. And 73 percent said that their hometown paper provides valuable local shopping and advertising information.

The poll was conducted for NNA by Susquehanna Polling and Research, which is based in Harrisburg, PA.

In addition, 64 percent of survey respondents said they read a community newspaper either in print or online, which is a small decline from last year’s survey. When it comes to advertising, readers are most likely to trust and respond to ads they see in their community newspaper.

According to the survey, community newspapers rate as the most popular advertising medium when it comes to making purchasing and shopping decisions at local merchants, cited by 24 percent of respondents. Other less popular ad platforms include direct mailings, 18 percent, social media platforms; 16 percent, and in-store promotions; 13 percent. Readers of community newspapers tend to rely on newspapers even more, cited by 34 percent—far and above the most popular answer given.

NNA has continually fought to keep public notices in newspapers, as one way to keep an eye on what the government is doing with taxpayers’ money.

According to the survey, respondents rated the importance of access to public notices a mean score of 5.72 on a 7-point scale, including a combined 80 percent who give a high score of five, six or seven. Even non-readers of community newspapers agree that access to public notices is important, with a mean score of 5.66.

As most publishers know, the people who read newspapers are the ones who are most likely to vote. When it comes to the coming mid-term elections, 84 percent of community newspaper readers are very likely to vote this year, compared with only 61 percent of non-readers. Plus, 77 percent of community newspaper readers say they voted in the last election in their local community, compared with only 61 percent of non-readers. This shows that readers of community newspapers tend to be more politically active than non-readers.

In fact, according to the survey, 86 percent of the respondents said they were either very likely or somewhat likely to vote in the next election.

For those newspapers working to get more political advertising in the coming elections, the survey notes that community newspapers are cited by respondents as not only the most common go-to source to learn about political candidates running in local elections at 65 percent very or somewhat often, but also the most trusted with a 4.38 mean score on a 7-point scale. In comparison, other less-popular sources of information to learn about local candidates include national network TV news, cited by 57 percent, cable TV news programs; 47 percent, talk radio; 36 percent; and social media platforms, 33 percent.

Additionally, 81 percent of community newspaper readers rely on local newspapers to learn about local candidates, far more than any other source. On the issue of trust, even non-readers of community newspapers trust community newspapers more than other sources, rating their overall trustworthiness a 3.71 mean score on a 7-point—higher than any other news source.

Unfortunately, this is the first year where TV news edged out newspapers as the most prominent news medium that people rely on for news about local communities. TV came in at 33 percent, and newspapers were one percentage point behind at 32 percent. But that’s only if you factor in cable, national outlets and TV websites. Without the added factors, newspapers without their websites were at 30 percent and TV news was at 29 percent.

Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said they read a community newspaper either in print or online, showing a small decline from last year.

Other sources of news did not fare so well:
8% radio and satellite radio
14% internet
4% social media

When respondents were asked if they read a newspaper that is specific to their community, 64 percent said yes. Of those who answered yes, 74 percent said they look forward to reading their community newspaper, and 71 percent said they rely on it for local news and information.

When asked how many friends, colleagues, co-workers or those in the household get to share the local paper, 66 percent said they did share.
One additional person 30%
Two people—14%
Three people—10%
Four people—3%.
Five or more people—9%